Devin Dawson and Leah Sykes are married.
The “All on Me” crooner and the singer-songwriter tied the knot in Franklin, Tennessee on Sunday in front of 200 guests at the Carnton historic plantation house and museum — and PEOPLE has all the exclusive details.
Ahead of their big day, Dawson, 30, told PEOPLE that he and Sykes, 22, chose the sprawling farm (which played an important role during and immediately after the American Civil War’s Battle of Franklin in 1864) as their venue because it was the ideal setting for an autumn ceremony.
“The property has a perfect set up for a fall wedding with the garden, foliage and a 250-year-old oak tree serving as an incredibly gorgeous and natural altar,” said the couple, who added that they chose a color scheme of Dawson’s signature black, as well as merlot and champagne, to decorate the space.
Devin Dawson and Leah Sykes
Standing beside Dawson on the big day was a bridal party made up of seven groomsmen: his best man and twin brother Jacob Durrett, his childhood best friends Kyle Fishman and Daniel Kutch, his best friends from college Grant Blevins and Matt Roberts, his band’s right-hand man and collaborator Austin Taylor Smith and music industry confidant Josh Tomlinson, who was the first friend he made when he moved to Nashville.
Sykes’ older brother, Jacob, married the couple, who wrote their own wedding vows.
“We wanted to recite our own written vows in addition to traditional wedding vows,” Dawson said. “You better believe that two songwriters and artists wanted to write our own vows and promises!”
Along with reciting their own vows, the couple sang a worship song called “How Deep the Father’s Love” during the ceremony because “faith is a huge part” of their relationship. Dawson anticipated that they would cry during the special moment, joking, “We could flood the Cumberland [River in Tennessee] with the tears of joy and love that will fall.”
Dawson also hinted that he has something special in store for Sykes.
“I have a small surprise for when Leah and I are announced,” he said. “It’s something very big for me as a man who hasn’t worn anything but black in five years.”
Sykes wore a gown for the ceremony and reception designed by Monique Lhuillier, which she described as a “form-fitting, solid lace” dress “with a low back.” Her veil was chapel length.
“Honestly, I said I wanted to feel like a fairy princess and that is exactly how the dress makes me feel,” she told PEOPLE ahead of the ceremony.
As for the engagement ring and wedding bands, Dawson designed them with Tim Stammen, the owner of BEZALEL in Nashville. Dawson and Stammen spent months designing the engagement ring to be “simple, elegant and timeless” while adding a small, unique touch by embedding Sykes’ great-grandmother’s wedding diamond in the band (underneath the main diamond) “as a reminder to always keep something for yourself in a world full of spotlight and access.”
The wedding band was custom designed to match and fit perfectly with the engagement ring, which features a 1.75-carat diamond and full platinum setting and band.
At the reception, the couple incorporated small touches to represent parts of their story, including tequila shots for toasts, handmade margaritas and a coffee bar featuring roasts from his native California, her native Florida and their current home of Nashville.
For their first dance as a married couple, Dawson and Sykes picked “Wouldn’t Mean a Thing” by Bruno Major. Dawson anticipated that their wedding guests would “burn holes in the dance floor and sweat through [their] tuxes and dresses” at the reception.
Dawson and Sykes have been together for two-and-half-years and met while both were attending Belmont University in Nashville. They made their red carpet debut as a couple at the Academy of Country Music Awards, but Dawson knew Sykes was the one from the jump.
“After our first date I told my brother I didn’t want to let anyone else be with her,” he said. “He told me to lock it down then! This is big because we never really talked love or relationships together at all.”
Sykes, on the other hand, knew Dawson was the one “when he continually made what mattered to me a priority: my family, music and faith.”
“I knew that he would always point me towards the things that were important and challenge me to be a better sister, daughter and wife,” she said.
Devin Dawson and Leah Sykes
Dawson — who’s nominated for song of the year for writing Blake Shelton‘s No. 1 hit “God’s Country” at next month’s CMA Awards — proposed to Sykes while celebrating their two-year anniversary of dating on a trip to San Francisco in March.
“Sunday was the two-year anniversary of our first date, and I’ve known for a while now that I wanted that to be the day I propose to her. I wanted to set that day in stone so we could always remember how important March 10th is to us,” Dawson told PEOPLE at the time. “I grew up around San Francisco and she’s never been, so we made a trip out of it and I got to show her around one of my favorite cities in the world.”
“I think she might have suspected that I would pop the question this weekend when I took her to all my favorite spots — Ocean Beach, The Presidio, Twin Peaks — but I wanted to try to surprise her when she least expected it,” he continued. “So I waited until late Saturday night… When it turned midnight (our anniversary), our good friends at Virgin Hotels let me take over their rooftop bar.”
As to why now seemed like the perfect time to get married, Dawson said, “We both knew we wanted to promise each other forever.”
“There was no doubt,” he added. “We wanted to take our love to the highest level and shout it from the mountain tops and celebrate it with our closest loved ones.”
Dawson — who has previously opened for Brett Eldredge, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as well as headlined his own tour — credits “understanding and respect for the difficult but rewarding career paths we’ve both chosen” for keeping his and Sykes’ relationship strong.
“Music allows us to be there for each other but push each other to be our best,” the “Dark Horse” singer, who will have new music out soon, said. “As a traveling and sometimes long-distance couple, we try to not go longer than two weeks [without] seeing each other. We try to FaceTime at least three times per week when we are apart for a long period of time. Other than that, it’s just having fun — enjoying life and experiencing ‘firsts’ together for the rest of our lives.”
When it comes to marriage itself, Dawson said he’s excited to take their love to the “ultimate level.”
“I’m excited to celebrate with our family, to grow together even stronger, to work through the hard times, to start a family and to always have someone closer than close,” he said.
But before forever comes the honeymoon — or, in Dawson and Sykes’ case, the “mini moon.”
“We are spending our mini moon at Blackberry Farm,” Dawson said. “It’s a private mountain resort and farm in the hills of Tennessee. We picked it because it’s close (we love road trips) and it’s gorgeous. It’s the perfect place to relax and treat ourselves in luxuries that we don’t usually afford ourselves. We will take a full honeymoon abroad at the top of the year.”